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Experts See Bright Future for Commercial Industry

March 21, 2019—The industry’s commercial solutions provider, Work Truck Solutions, cohosted a panel of some of the automotive industry's top influencers at the NTEA's Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.

Titled Commercial Opportunity in a Time of Innovation and Disruption, the event highlighted many of the upcoming challenges and benefits new technology will provide to the commercial vehicle industry.

Panelists included Cliff Banks, founder of The Banks Report; Todd Madeiros, recently VP of eBay Motors; Nate Klebacha, co-founder at Haig Partners; John Pas, VP at Spincar; and Adam Seifert, supervisor of business intelligence at ARI.

A few highlights:

Opportunity Growing

Banks set the tone by reassuring the audience that many of the disruptors threatening the retail auto industry will not affect the commercial industry. New electric drivetrains won't disrupt commercial vehicles anytime soon, he said, not while diesel is still affordable. In three to five years, Banks predicts trucks will be built with connective technology to provide a "much deeper dive into vehicle data"; this will provide dealerships additional revenue opportunities, deeper insight into their customers, and a much more predictive way to gauge service needs.

It’s the People

Klebacha shared NTEA surveys that show finding, hiring, and retaining great people are the biggest concern in the work truck industry. He confirmed that, “getting skilled people in the right jobs at the right time” is one of the most important principles for all business success. That’s why retaining employees is so important, Klebacha said, urging commercial businesses to be proactive in rewarding talent. Plus, although we talk about businesses as disruptors, in this space it's the customers who are doing the disrupting, Klebacha said. Today, customers want more efficient, more effective, and more beneficial services, and businesses need to be aware of that and give customers what they want.

Buyer Demands

Madeiros picked up that ball by comparing the mature retail auto buying experience to the current state of commercial vehicle buying—illustrating the lack of access to the information a user needs to make a purchase decision. Madeiros pointed out that this industry is in a perfect place to solve that problem without much disruption. “There's a lot of opportunity for dealers and different players in this space to create a better buyer experience for Joe the plumber or Josephine the florist.”

Pas seconded Madeiros’ suggestion for a better buyer experience, using examples such as 360 views and AR that can help buyers understand new vehicle technology, custom upfits and other digital tools that can help them make good choices. He also suggested that using tech to target and remarket to commercial buyers was a much-needed next step for this industry.

Fleet Needs

Seifert, a Certified Automotive Fleet Manager, wrapped the panel up by explaining why large fleets are hungry for emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles, changing ownership models, and telematics. He spent some time detailing how those technologies will assist fleets in becoming safer and more profitable.

A recording of the full panel event can be found here.